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The Lead with Jake Tapper

CNN's Erin Burnett Presses Biden On Voters' Economic Concerns; Sources: Defense Attorneys Plan Longer Cross-Examination Of Daniels; U.S. Pauses Bomb Shipments To Israel Amid Rafah Operation; Lawmakers Grill School Leaders On Antisemitism In Grades K-12; Young Michigan Voters Lose Enthusiasm For Biden Re-Election. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 08, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It tastes -- why would you do that? I don't -- sort of like a dare, I wasn't sleeping much.


KEILAR: I had bad judgment. Anyways, the point is, it kind of tastes like soft shell crab because they are related to shrimp.

DEAN: Whatever you need to tell yourself to swallow --

KEILAR: I really wish I just disassociated while trying to end that.

DEAN: That's what I told -- oh, man.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now. Have a great day.

KEILAR: Buzz, buzz.

DEAN: Buzz, buzz, crunch, crunch.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A rare interview with President Biden.

THE LEAD starts right now.

He has been for months accused of avoiding the traditional media, but now, President Biden is going one on one in a CNN exclusive. What did he tell Erin Burnett about issue number one for so many voters, the economy and the struggle right now for so many Americans? The very first interview clip is coming right up.

Plus, in the New York hush money cover-up case, what CNN is learning about the new strategy by Donald Trump's legal team in direct response to the testimony from adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels, who returns to the stand tomorrow morning.

And in what may be the most bizarre report of the week, in a week that included Kristi Noem's bookstore, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is acknowledging brain worms, and I'm not talking figurative brain worms. I mean, he literally said a worm ate part of his brain and died in his noggin. (MUSIC)

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we're going to start today with the CNN exclusive interview with President Joe Biden. The commander in chief just spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett in a crucial battleground state of Wisconsin. You might remember the Badger State serving as a key part of the blue wall that collapsed in 2016, sending Donald Trump to the White House and was rebuilt by Democrats in 2020, sending Joe Biden there.

Today, the president is back in Wisconsin for the fourth time this year, trying to pitch his economic policies while also taking direct aim at the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Biden standing in Racine County this afternoon to announce a $3.3 billion investment from Microsoft to build a new artificial intelligence facility.

The location, interestingly, is the exact same site where in 2018, then President Trump broke ground on Foxconn, which was supposed to be a significant project, an electronics factory that sadly largely failed to materialize.

But despite President Biden's optimism on the economy, polls consistently show Americans disapprove of his handling of it. And that is where CNN's Erin Burnett began.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: So when you talk about the economy, of course, it is by far the most important issue for voters. It's also true right now, Mr. President, that voters by a wide margin, trust Trump more on the economy. They say that in polls.

And part of the reason for that, maybe the numbers and you're aware of many of these, of course, the cost of buying home in the United States is double what it was when you look at your monthly costs from before the pandemic. Real income, when you account for inflation, is actually down since you took office. Economic growth last week for short of expectations.

Consumer confidence, maybe no surprise, is near a two-year low. With less than six months to go to Election Day, are you worried that you're running out of time to turn that around?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already turned it around. Look, look at the Michigan survey. For 65 percent American people think they're in good shape economically. They think the nation's not in good shape, but they're personally in good shape.

The polling data has been wrong all along. How many -- you guys do a poll at CNN. How many folks you have to call to get one response?

The idea that we're in a situation where things are so bad. Folks -- I mean, we've created more jobs, we've made, were in a situation where people have access to good paying jobs. And the last I saw, the combination of the inflation, the cost of inflation, all the things -- that's really worse for the people with good reason. That's why I'm working very hard to bring the cost of rentals down, to increase the number of homes that are available.

What -- but let me say it this way, when I started this administration, people were saying, there are going to be a collapse in the economy. We have the strongest economy in the world. Let me say it again, in the world.

BURNETT: Although GDP last week was far short of expectations.

BIDEN: Oh, wasn't -- look, GDP is still growing -- look at the response to the markets, overwhelmingly positive, overwhelmingly positive. And one of the reasons why people feel good about it, not being a strong as it was before is they believe that the Fed is going to respond --

BURNETT: They hope they're going to get a rate cut.

BIDEN: Yeah. Well, so what -- I mean, no president has had the run we've had in terms of creating jobs and bringing down inflation was 9 percent when I came to office, 9 percent.


But it -- look, people have a right to be concerned, ordinary people. The idea that you bounce a check and you get $30 fee for bouncing a check, I changed that. You can't charge more than 8 bucks for that, or your credit card, your late payment, $35. I mean, there's corporate greed going on up there. And it's got to be dealt with.


TAPPER: Erin Burnett also pressed President Biden on many other topics, including Donald Trump, the Israel-Hamas war, and much more.

You can watch her full exclusive interview with President Biden on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT". That's tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

Let's discuss this. CNN's John King is with U.S. Also, Meghan Hays, the former White House director of messaging and planning under President Biden.

John, let me start with you. Your reaction to President Biden's economic pitch there.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's right on the numbers about the economic turnaround, but he is on very dangerous ground, Jake. I would say he risks offending, forgive my language, I would say he risked pissing off some of the voters I've talked to in my travels over the last six or seven months because they don't feel it.

And so when he said at the top of that, we have turned it around. And he said in the middle of that, the polls are wrong. Trust me from my travels, we have a vote, a group in Milwaukee just north of where the president was today. And when we visited, then there used to be a lot of factories in their neighborhood. Those factories are gone.

They're -- they're dealing with COVID. They're dealing with inflation. They talk a lot about the cost of living in the cost of groceries.

Just last week, I was in Michigan talking to auto workers, auto workers who are prepared to vote for President Biden. They believe he's the most pro-union president. But even they, they've seen beleaguered when they talk about the cost of groceries and how hard it is, and they can't move out of their house because they want to upgrade, but they can't afford a newer house, a bigger house right now because of mortgage rates.

So the statistics back up the president's argument that economy is much better and is growing and is strong, the strongest in the world. He is correct. However, voters don't feel that way, and voters don't like being told they're wrong.

TAPPER: And, Meghan, CNN's Jeff Zeleny just spoke with some Wisconsin voters about the economy.

I want to play what we heard from Mr. Tom Oberhaus, his family owns a farm in southern Wisconsin.


TOM OBERHAUS, WISCONSIN FARMER: The inflation thing is just wild. And, you know, we're told by the government that, oh, 7 or 8 percent inflation or whatnot, we were feeling more like it's 25 percent inflation. You get your paycheck and it looks good, but then when you pay the bills, it's like, wow, it's all gone already.


TAPPER: So you help craft messaging at the White House. How can President Biden convince voters that the economy is much better than their lived experience?

MEGHAN HAYS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think doing things like he did today. He helped Microsoft and invest in Racine. They created 3,000 jobs. That's the kind of thing and investing in these communities, it's going to bring more jobs, better paying jobs, and more skills to communities that will give them more money in their paychecks.

I also think he's working on junk fees. Like you mentioned, he's working on different things to bring prices down, but he still has a ways to go. He needs to continue to bring gas prices down, the summer months are going to be very telling for that, but gas prices need to come down.

But the other thing is he needs to continue to draw the contrast with President Trump. Today's event was a perfect example of that. This is -- President Trump was there six years ago, and the company pulled out and let the community just imperil at large. And then here comes President O -- or President Biden, excuse me, to bring -- to invest in this community, to bring in more jobs. So continuing to draw that contrast is also helpful for him.

TAPPER: And John, President Biden made a stop at a community center in Racine today to meet with Black voters, obviously, a crucial if not the crucial part of his coalition. You met with Black voters in Wisconsin late last year.

What was their message for President Biden?

KING: They want to see more of him. They want to see more of the vice president. They just feel that Washington is not paying attention to their concerns that Washington does not understand their concerns, that Washington does not understand.

Jake, we both live in Washington. People in Washington tend to make pretty good money. Yeah, grocery costs are higher. But does the president shop his own groceries? I'm not beating up on President Biden here. That's the perception voters have that they don't understand us.

Meghan just made I think a fascinating point in an area where the president can make inroads, making the point that Trump talks. I do. Trump talked about infrastructure week ad nauseam, Biden did pass a historic bipartisan infrastructure law that will create jobs and it will create roads and bridges.

Today's announcement in a place where Trump promised, didn't deliver. Biden says he's promising those auto workers I talked to, they remember President Trump promising to keep an Ohio plant open. He didn't follow through and Biden did help keep Illinois plant open.

So there are opportunities there in the contrast with Trump, the problem for the president is, you know, people don't see it. They don't feel it. So, if he's going to do it, he better do a lot of it. You've got to be out on the road, not just today, but a lot.

TAPPER: So, Meghan, there's a new a quick poll out or Wisconsin today. It finds Biden leading Trump 52, or 44, we should note other recent polling in Wisconsin has found a much tighter race than that. And I think its fair to say it's a toss up in the battleground states as of now.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is spending his days in court. He's facing 88 criminal charges in four different cases. President Biden says he's a threat to democracy. January 6 happened.


We have all these embarrassing details, Stormy Daniels and the prosecutors going.

Why are the polls so close if he is so awful as Democrats depict him?

HAYS: I think that no one's paying attention. These swing voters in these swing states are not paying attention, and they'll start paying attention late September, early October. These are based voters that are paying attention right now. And so that's -- those are the people who are in these polls.

And I think when it comes down to the swing states in these votes that matter come October and when people have to make a decision in November, I think that's when these salacious detail to this trial and they really start to look at who's going to do better for them if its going to be real acting President Biden or, you know, President Trump.

John, how complicated is Biden's path to reelection if he does not win Wisconsin this November?

KING: If you're not winning Wisconsin, that means you're probably struggling in Michigan as well. And it means you're most likely struggling if not losing your home state, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Those three all the other column, the blue wall states that Trump flipped red, Biden flipped them back. They will be -- obviously Georgia, Arizona as well, and Nevada.

But those three big industrial Midwest states, where the economic argument is going to be the key are absolutely critical to the president's path. The question is, can he turn around perceptions? And it looked at the Democratic coalition is a lot more complicated than the Republican coalition.

And right now, to Meghan's point, take their names out of it. Right now, voters are looking at the state of their life and they want change. They want something different.

Biden's challenge is to make the contrast with Trump to say, you don't want that. You may want change, you might be mad at me about some things, but you don't want that.

He hasn't made that argument yet in part because we have six months. And in part because -- I agree with Meghan to the point where people asked by the pollsters now, they're mainly asking about, you know, this is your incumbent. Do you want change?

The answer today is yes. That's a challenge for the president.

TAPPER: The question that tale tell question that Ronald Reagan asked, are you better off than you were four years ago? Four years ago, we're at the very beginning of COVID, it was horrible, horrible time. And obviously, the economy was tanking.

There is a reluctance. It seems on behalf of the Biden-Harris reelection campaign to talk about that though.

Is that because of COVID and what a horrible thing it was and how obviously it wasn't Donald Trump's fault that COVID happened, et cetera? I mean, what is -- what is the reluctance?

HAYS: I can't speak for why the campaign doesn't want to speak to that directly, but I do think that there is -- you can speak on the president's accomplishments in office as the president. And I think those are much more compelling arguments to make to folks moving, than taking them back into the past. We want to continue to move forward. We want to continue to bring to

eliminate student loans for people, to bring down junk fees, to bring down some of these things that are really impacting people in their pocket book. And I think looking backwards isn't helpful. And so, focusing on his accomplishments and how those are going to move forward is what's going to be a winning strategy.

TAPPER: All right. Meghan Hays and John King, thanks to both you.

John will be back in just a few minutes with his "All Over the Map" series, this time revisiting younger voters that he first met five months ago in Michigan. Hear what they think about the race today, some of them are changing their minds.

But, first, why Stormy Daniels back on the witness stand tomorrow has Donald Trump's defense team rethinking their legal strategy? What are they going to do tomorrow?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, today, Trump's legal team, the defense team gearing up for longer cross-examination of Stormy Daniels than they had originally planned, sources tell CNN. While the defense team's cross-examination of Daniels was originally expected to be on the shorter side, Trump's lawyers now want to ensure that they are protecting Mr. Trump's reputation after Daniel shared rather salacious details on the stand of the sexual encounter that Mr. Trump denies ever happened.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins us.

Kara, what exactly did Trump -- Trump's attorneys want to get with Stormy tomorrow. They're trying to act as if none of this ever happened and try to go that direction?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're trying to attack her credibility and her motivations and part of that is they're raising some past statements that she made and suggesting that she's changed her story. They got to some of that yesterday during the night 90 minutes of cross-examination that got underway. They pulled up parts of her memoir and then said that that did not match what she was testifying to.

So, trying to chip away at her credibility because they're trying to chip away at this story and they're trying to say that she made it up too, because sex cells with president and former President Donald Trump. And that was the reason why she he was motivated to sell her story.

She also testified that she at one point then wanted to get her story out because she felt threatened by a man in a parking lot. They spent a lot of time attacking that, asking her if this story was something that she just made up.

So they're really trying to just raise questions in the jury mind -- jurors' minds whether they should believe her or not and focusing in that she was motivated by money to sell her story, and as they put it to try to extort Donald Trump. Daniels, though, deny that saying pretty sharply that that was false -- Jake.

TAPPER: Trump is also asking a New York appeals court to expedite his appeal of the gag order imposed upon him by the judge in this case. What's going on with that? What's the latest?

SCANNELL: Right. So remember before the trial started, they tried to stop it by saying that this gag order was unconstitutional and an appellate judge had denied that in the trial started off as planned. Well, at the time, they also ask the full appeals court to weigh in on the constitutionality of this gag order, which they are challenging.

The appeals court has not ruled yet, and so Trump's team, according to sources, filed this motion today, urging the court to expedite their ruling and come up with a decision. Of course, this comes as the judge overseeing the case, Judge Juan Merchan had found Trump in contempt for the 10th time this week and said that if he continues to violate the order, this $1,000 per violation fine does not seem to be a deterrence, and the judge telling Trump that he may have to throw them in jail -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

So let's turn to one of Stormy Daniels's friends, Alana Evans, who's name came up in Daniels testimony yesterday.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, Stormy Daniels on the stand, quote, did you end up calling your friend Alana from the hotel room? Answer: Yes.

Did you put her on speaker? Answer: Yeah.

What, if any, conversation did you and Mr. Trump have with Alana on speaker? Answer: He said hello, which meant that I won that bet.


She said, what are you guys doing? And he said we're just hanging out once you come over and hang out with us, and she -- I can't remember what kind of excuse she made.

Alana Evans joins us now.

Alana, can you -- can you vouch for that story that call and conversation happened? Because Donald Trump obviously denies that any of this occurred.

ALANA EVANS, ADULT ACTRESS: Absolutely, not only did the call happened, I had met with Stormy earlier that day when she filled me in on the moments of meeting Donald for the first time at the golf tournament that started all of this.

TAPPER: Were you also the friend that Stormy Daniels called from the bathroom but wasn't able to get through and got voicemail?

EVANS: That would be me. Stormy called me repeatedly that night, of course, calling me on speaker phone with Donald where I was invited by him as well to join them, and I panicked at that point, I turned off my phone, decided it was a better decision for me to stay in that night, instead of joining them.

TAPPER: Do you have records of these calls? Did the prosecution ask to see your phone records to prove that these calls actually happened to give credibility to Stormy Daniels story?

EVANS: Given that this happened in June of 2006, reaching records like that would be quite difficult, although I imagine my phone carrier would have any of that type of information. But again, were talking about something that happened gosh, more than 15 almost getting close to 20 years ago.


EVANS: So those types of things are hard to get a hold of.

TAPPER: So one of the things that Stormy Daniels said in her testimony and has said in interviews with Anderson Cooper and others, is that while she is not saying it wasn't consensual, she didn't expect Mr. Trump to be in his underwear when she came out of the bathroom and she kind of felt as though she had was pressured to have sex with him, although again, she's not saying it was not consensual.

Now, when -- when that testimony came up in court, Mr. Trump's attorneys objected to it. They said it was prejudicial, et cetera.

What, if anything, did she tell you at the time about this encounter?

EVANS: It totally falls in line with what Stormy had told me when we spoke that next morning and I was apologizing for essentially bailing on her, she told me that Donald was chasing her are around his hotel room.

And at that time, what she told me was tighty-whities. That's what I've expressed publicly since my side of the story came out back in 2016, 2017. And so, honestly, it goes along to the discomfort that she was likely feeling having in this man chasing her around his room.

TAPPER: I don't think she testified that he was literally chasing her around the room, but she definitely felt -- anyway, let me ask you, sources tell CNN that Trump's legal team is now planning a longer than expected cross based on the details Stormy shared. It sounds like they're going to be even more aggressive with her, really tried to undermine her credibility, really tried to go after her character.

You're her friend. Are you nervous for her to be back on the stand?

EVANS: Not at all. Stormy has been handling this so incredibly well. She's not ashamed. She's being completely honest about what happened and she has her truth to keep her solid. I think that this has been incredibly empowering for Stormy as well as

it has been for myself finally having the truth, be able to come out in front of Donald while he sits there and squirms as she tells her side of the story.

TAPPER: So conservatives are saying that the testimony yesterday proves that the district attorney's case is just about humiliating Donald Trump and not actually about the law, not actually about accountability. It's just about embarrassing him.

What's your response to that?

EVANS: Donald Trump has done enough to embarrass himself through this entire thing, including his presidency that I don't think that that is the concern. I think what they're afraid they're dealing with is very strong, steadfast woman who's putting this man and in his place. This isn't necessarily about his sordid affair with her, but about the fact that there was hush money paid and it was lied about. That's what this is the focus. That's what is happening here.

TAPPER: All right. Alana Evans, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

EVANS: Thank you.

Israel is now responded to the dramatic move by the Biden administration, which paused shipments of munitions to Israel. They say that's because they fear the weapons will be used to bomb parts of Gaza where there are sizable populations of innocent civilians.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is in the region. We're going to go to her next.



TAPPER: Topping our world laid, quote, deep frustration from Israeli officials directed at the Biden administration over President Biden's decision to withhold bomb shipments for Israel. The Biden administration concerned that they would be used in Gaza's densely populated city of Rafah.

The shipment would have included about 1,800 2,000-pound bombs, which U.S. officials are particularly concerned about, given their ability to flatten city blocks.

Let's get right to CNN's Clarissa Ward who's in Jerusalem, Israel, for us.

And, Clarissa, while U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cautioned this is not a final decision. It is certainly sending quite a message.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is, Jake, it is a very public message and it is a very pointed message.

[16:30:05] And it's a definite departure from the sort of policy that we've seen over the past few months where the Biden administration has tried to publicly support Israel, but privately apply that pressure.

Now, you've mentioned several officials have been privately talking about their frustration at this on public platforms, they are being a little bit more diplomatic about it, although we did here from Israel's ambassador to the U.N.

He was speaking to Israeli media. He called the decision deeply frustrating, although he also acknowledged the political realities that President Biden is facing.

The real question becomes, does Israel heed the warning? There have been many instances where the Biden administration has really tried to pressure Israel, has warned Israel, and Israel has gone about doing things in the way that they see as being the best solution for them.

So it remains to be seen whether they will heed the warning, but we have seen, Jake, over the past few months, the impact that these 2,000 bombs have the number of civilian casualties, entire city blocks flattened, households destroyed.

And so, the Biden administration really making it very clear that they do not want to be a part of that if it goes ahead in Rafah, which is something that they have described as a red line and have been warning Israel against for months.

TAPPER: Clarissa, were hearing these conflicting accounts about activity at the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and southern Gaza. It was closed after an attack on Sunday. It seemed to have been a rocket attack of some sort by Hamas that killed Israeli soldiers, although like I said, conflicting accounts.

What can you tell us?

WARD: So it's interesting because yesterday, the State Department, the U.S. State Department, said they heard that Israel had promised to open Kerem Shalom today. We saw COGAT, which is the Israeli agency that's sort of charged with overseeing delivery of aid. They said that the border crossing was open, but then we heard again from the State Department and the U.N. saying that they had not heard of a single truck of aid being able to get into Rafah, and the concern now, of course, is that you're going to see a dramatic, catastrophic situation as medicine is unable to get in, as food is unable to get in, as fuel, which we talked a lot about earlier on in this conflict is not able to get in.

The WHO came out today and said that they believe the hospitals of southern Gaza will only be able to function for three days. And that's really two more days from now without getting fuel.

Now there had been some pieces of trucks getting in from Erez in the north, but again, the capacity and the amount that is needed, keep in mind 500 trucks day hey, on average, before October 7th, so obviously we are now in a drastically different reality, hundreds of thousands of people in an absolutely desperate and critical situation.

And aid agencies really sounding the alarm that we need to see that aid going through Kerem Shalom because obviously the Rafah border crossing is closed again.

TAPPER: It seems like the differences between the ceasefire proposal agreed to by Hamas and the one agreed to by Israel, that there's -- it's just insurmountable perhaps.

CIA Director Bill Burns is in region trying to bring some sort of agreement. He recently met with Prime Minister Netanyahu just today. Do we know if there are any achievements made in closing these gaps?

WARD: We know that he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, that after that meeting, president of the war cabinet here in Israel convened.

We know that Burns -- Director Burns is on his way or perhaps now is actually arrived back in Cairo. So you can see the flurry of activity, Doha, Cairo, Israel, back to Cairo, there is a crushing pressure and a real desire diplomatically to try to find a way to close the gaps that exist.

But at this stage, we simply don't know how surmountable or insurmountable they may be. The two key issues that we talked about before, the issue of those 33 hostages, would they be dead or alive? And the issue of whether Israeli forces would pull out of the Gaza Strip altogether, those are the two crucial areas of disagreement, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward in Jerusalem, please stay safe. Thank you so much.

Coming up next, the pushback some Republicans today as they tried to call some K through 12 districts, school districts to task over acts of antisemitism their schools.

Plus, how the tables turned when Donald Trump became the focus of the conversation.



TAPPER: In our national lead, three administrators of some of the largest public school systems in the United States, K through 12, appeared before Congress today to answer questions on how they've handled incidence of antisemitism in their elementary and high schools. This follows a contentious house hearing that resulted in the resignation of two Ivy League presidents last December from Penn and Harvard over their testimony about antisemitism on college campuses.


REP. AARON BEAN (R-FL): Just like some college presidents before you, that sat in the very same seats, they also, in many instances, said the right thing, but then we watched the TV monitors and America watch the monitors of their campuses on fire with hatred.


TAPPER: CNN's Tom Foreman has been closely following today's hearing and brings us to this report.




TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turmoil at colleges has grabbed headlines for weeks, but now, Congress is looking at the lower grades, K through 12 and growing reports of antisemitism there.

REP. AARON BEAN (R-FL): I can hardly fathom sending one of my sons to school knowing he'll be exposed to vile, hate-filled discrimination.

FOREMAN: The Republican-led committee called school leaders from three predominantly Democratic areas and grilled them about antisemitic incidents, making some Jewish students and teachers feel targeted, pressured, victimized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People like saying and passing in the hallways, its like, oh, what's side are you on?

FOREMAN: One example, a pro-Palestinian walkout by students at New York City's Hillcrest High last year, which allegedly was aimed at a teacher who had shown support for Israel after the Hamas attack in October.

REP. BRANDON WILLIAMS (R-NY): How can Jewish students feel safe at New York City public schools when you can't even manage to terminate the principal of open season on Jews high school.

FOREMAN: From the hot seats, the New York public schools chancellor said, hold on, the principal was removed, students were suspended.

DAVID BANKS, CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: I condemned clearly. What happened at Hillcrest was a complete act of antisemitism. It will not stand on my watch.

FOREMAN: Another question, what about teaching around the phrase from the river to the sea in a class about Middle East conflict.


FOREMAN: The Anti-Defamation League says it's a call to eviscerate Israel, but many Palestinian say it's a call for justice.

REP. KEVIN KILEY (R-CA): Giving that's an appropriate thing to have on a slide for students.

ENIKIA FORD MORTHEL, SUPERINTENDENT, BERKELEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: So we definitely believe that its important to expose our students to a diversity of ideas and perspectives. And if it was presented as a perspective, I do think it's appropriate.

FOREMAN: Amid such back-and-forth, some Democratic lawmakers finally let loose.

BANKS: I work in an institution that teaches hate.

FOREMAN: Accusing their Republican colleagues have suddenly embracing this important issue only after years of ignoring similar complaints of bias from women and racial minorities, and dodging problematic statements from their own party's presidential candidate, who only a month ago said --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any Jewish person that votes for Biden does not love Israel, and frankly should be spoken to.

REP. SUZANNE BONAMICI (D-OR): If my colleagues care about antisemitism, they would condemn and denounce these comments from the leader of their party.


FOREMAN (on camera): By the time it was all over, Democrats came out rolling their eyes at what they called rank hypocrisy. And many Republicans came out patting themselves on the backs, if dare we say it, Jake, their wokeness over this issue.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Let's bring in Franklin Foer, staff writer at "The Atlantic". His recent cover story, "The Golden Age of American Jews is Ending" examined the threats of antisemitism from the left and the right.

Franklin, good to see you.

So college campuses have gotten a majority of the attention when it comes to antisemitism in the wake of October 7. Not so much local K through 12 school systems. The chancellor for New York City schools suggested that today's hearing is the ultimate gotcha moment and not a venue for real solutions.

What do you think? Do you think, without hearings like this, local school leaders would be aggressive in tackling antisemitism in their schools, or is this -- is this needed do you think?

FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I mean, unfortunately, just listening to that back-and-forth, you see the ways in which everything in our politics is mediated through these partisan lens. It's all about scoring points. It's all about teams, and about whose team is more purer than the other team.

And so we get stipulate that a hearing like this is probably not the best forum for talking about an issue as raw and complicated as antisemitism. I mean, but I'm -- but it is an incredible problem within K-12 schools. It -- there are lots of teachers who are teaching very one-sided views of the conflict, and in the course of teaching a very passionate, partisan view of the conflict, they end up reducing things to Jews being the bad guys in the story. And when kids hear that process through their adolescent or pre-adolescent brains that Jews are the bad people, it ends up resulting in bullying.

And in a lot of these districts, there is an epidemic of bullying of Jewish kids that are happening. I'm not sure today will put a stop to that or caused officials to take it anymore seriously, but it does deserve to be treated seriously.

TAPPER: So you heard the Tom Foreman report with the Berkeley School superintendent saying the phrase river to the sea, "from the river to the sea" can be taught as a perspective. Some Palestinian see that chant as a call for freedom and peace and justice for -- well, I don't know about peace, but freedom and justice for Palestinians from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea to be experiencing freedom. Obviously, there are a lot of Israelis and a lot of Jews and a lot of others who think -- no, no, no, that's a call to obliterate Israel.

What do you think of what the Berkeley superintendent said?

FOER: Unfortunately, I just don't believe her that in a lot of the school districts, that's being taught as one perspective.


I think there's a lot of evidence in Berkeley and in other Bay Areas schools where you have teachers who care passionately and understandably about this conflict kind of taking over entire classrooms to teach it. So in Oakland for instance, there's a teach-in that happened where it didn't matter if you were in a chemistry class or a social studies class, your classmates joining to hear activists talk about how important it was to take action on this issue.

And if you're a Jewish student in a school like that, you start to feel incredibly isolated. The price of participating in your class and not getting singled out for being a bad person is that you somehow have to abandon a religious perspective or somehow suppress your identity.

TAPPER: Yeah, what seems odd about it also is it such an opportunity for education, right? And certainly the Palestinian perspective is an incredibly important one, especially now. But there also is an Israeli perspective and an Egyptian perspective and a Jordanian perspective and on and on and on. It's an incredibly complicated conflict, and it seems odd to teachers wouldn't embrace that idea as opposed to going with a simplistic narrative.

But before you go, Franklin, I want to ask you -- a lot of the Democrats, you heard them bringing up a past antisemitic remarks from the Republican colleagues bringing up the Trump met with a Holocaust denier and antisemite and racist named Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago, Kanye West, saying himself things that were antisemitic about like if you're an American Jew and you vote for Biden, you hate Israel and you hate your religion.

You know, I listened to both sides and I thought both sides had good points. But as you say, its covering this through a partisan lens is dishonest because they've gotten antisemites on both sides. Of course, they do.

FOER: Well, let's not treat it as separate problems. It's the same problem. When Donald Trump was president and he talked about very fine people on both sides and he met with the Holocaust denier and he takes part in this terrible tradition of leaders trying to separate the good news and the bad Jews, he was opening up the door.

Antisemitism was something that had been, that many analysts thought was dead in America. It was not going to be a factor in our national life, but in the last 15 years, because very powerful people, including the former president, have legitimized antisemitic things, antisemites, they've winked at white supremacist, that the lock on the chest holding it in antisemitism has broken free.

And so some of the antisemitism that we see on the left, right now, I think you could say as part of this broader cultural phenomenon, we have where something that was taboo is no longer taboo. An infection has begun to spread much more rapidly. And unfortunately, many, many people are to blame.

TAPPER: Yeah, and the horseshoe theory, right? American politics is not on -- on a horizontal spectrum. It's a horseshoe and you have in the middle, for instance, isolationism or antisemitism you find a lot of compatriotism in that little area.

Franklin Foer, always good to have you on. Thanks so much.

FOER: Thanks.

TAPPER: CNN's John King went back to battleground Michigan. He spoke with the same younger voters who had strong views of the 2024 race five months ago. What are their feelings now? Well, they're not the same.

John King's latest installment of all over the map is next.



TAPPER: More now in our 2024 lead and the latest installment of CNN's "All Over the Map" series. John King went back to Michigan to see how President Biden is fairing with young voters there. And it appears there are even more frustrated with Mr. Biden than they were five months ago.

John now takes a look at why and what this might mean for Biden's hope to get reelected.



KING (voice-over): Summer Matkin is home in suburban Detroit, processing freshman year at Wayne State.

MATKIN: Can you talk about politics for me?

KING: Back in November, big reservations about the president's age, but zero doubt if the choice was Biden or Trump.

MATKIN: I go Biden.

KING: Now, not so sure.

MATKIN: No matter how many Taylor Swift references you make, you'll never understand us.

My thing is, I think he has handled everything with Israel and Palestine terribly.

KING: Still leaning Biden, but part of a consequential debate with friends.

MATKIN: A lot of our generation is also considering going third party, but I kind of fear it's going to split up the votes and end up having it fall back on Trump, which I wouldn't want to happen.

KING: Maya Siegmann began the school year likely Biden, ends at definitely Biden, happy with her grades, even more happy it is over.

MAYA SIEGMANN, MICHIGAN VOTER, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: It's terrifying. It's terrifying the escalation of other campuses has made me fear for my campus.

KING: Siegmann then offers nuance often missing when politicians discuss the campus protests.

No problem with calls to end the killing or to speed up humanitarian aid, but fear when she sees banners like this, the intifada was a violent armed uprising targeting Jews.

You're wearing your Star of David. You ever taken it off?

SIEGMANN: I did. I took it off actually for about a week or two, and then I put it on four or five months ago never took it off.

KING: A fierce supporter of Israel, but are fierce critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

SIEGMANN: I personally don't agree with how he is operating. I think that he is trying to prolong the war/

KING: Ibrahim Ghazal also speaks with nuance. He is no fan of Hamas and acknowledges Israel's right to respond to terrorist.

IBRAHIM GHAZAL, MICHIGAN VOTER, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: We don't want human rights violations. If you're going to conduct war, conduct it within the rule of law, international law. Now, that's all people are asking for, nothing more. KING: Ghazal is in two groups critical to Biden's Michigan math, a younger voter and an Arab American. He just wrapped his first year at Wayne State Law School.

GHAZAL: It's been stressful just seeing people that look like me and just human beings, seeing human beings on my phone screen being killed day in, day out. And what's worse as an American, I have to see my government funding. So, stressful.


KING (on camera): And, Jake, the biggest difference between five months ago and now was that the Israel-Hamas conflict has become essentially a single issue for many young voters and they have been around these campus protests that campus demonstrations, campus to activism, and that is just disillusioned them with President Biden.


Here's the challenge. Also, we also spoke to two now University of Michigan graduates who were the past president of the College Democrats. Their hope, students go home for the summer. They start thinking about other issues, about abortion rights, about the climate, about things on which they want to vote for President Biden.

No groundswell for Donald Trump, let me make that clear. No groundswell for Donald Trump. The risk for the president is they say disillusions, and either stay home or vote third party. We'll see what campus looks like when classes resume in the fall.

TAPPER: All right. John King with, his latest "All Over the Map" series, great job. Thank you so much.

Tomorrow will mark day 14 of the New York hush money cover up trial. How strong is the case being brought by prosecutors? I see an end correspondent with a law degree has been analyzing the case.

Plus, the change in strategy expected tomorrow by Donald Trump's defense team when it comes to Stormy Daniels on the witness stand. That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD.

I'm Jake Tapper.